Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17

AlfRodchenko

Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

Strategically, the Dhofar war was one of the most important conflicts

of the 20th century, as the victors could expect to control the Strait of

Hormuz and the flow of oil. Thousands died, the British won and the

west’s lights stayed on. Today, the war is still studied at the Joint Services

Command and Staff College in Britain. But because of the way in which

information about the long campaign was so successfully suppressed at

the time that it was being waged, it has been all but blanked out of the

nation’s memory. Like the British wars in Eritrea, Indochina, the Dutch

East Indies and Borneo, it is remembered in Britain only by those men

who fought it, and their families.

Some aspects of Britain’s role in the coup and the war remain among

the deep secrets of the British state. Wilson’s correspondence on Oman,

for example, and that of his successor Heath, are to remain closed to

historians and the public until 2021. In 2005, a Foreign Office memo

was briefly made public that describes the way in which the old sultan’s

own defence secretary, Colonel Hugh Oldman, had taken the lead role

in planning the coup that deposed Oman’s ruler, in order to safeguard

British access to the country’s oil and military bases. The document was

then hurriedly withdrawn – its release, the Foreign Office said, had been

an unfortunate error.

49

Judging from the last decade and a half, there is little sign that the

British state is about to lose its appetite for war. The first conflict of the

new century in which the UK became involved was the post-9/11 assault

against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

SEPTEMBER 2016

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